Tebbit condemned for attack on 'barbarians born into Islam'

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Indy Politics

The Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, was under pressure last night formally to discipline Lord Tebbit after the former party chairman used an extreme right-wing website to call for a "civilisation" test for British Muslims.

The Tory peer infuriated anti-racism campaigners by arguing that British Muslims should "stand alongside the forces of civilisation against barbarians born into Islam". Lord Tebbit made his controversial remarks on a website belonging to Right Now!, a magazine with links to racist groups in America.

Mr Duncan Smith has banned Tory MPs from associating with the magazine, and Lord Tebbit's intervention will undermine his attempts to purge the party of racists and build bridges with British Muslims.

Lord Tebbit's interview in this month's edition of Right Now! was conducted by its editor, Derek Turner, who has called himself a "neighbourhood Nazi".

The Tory peer warns that there could be "long-term problems" with alienated youths who have "no culture except mouthing Islamic slogans" in areas such as Bradford. He says Muslims who want to play a part in Britain should "ostracise" anyone who has sympathies with "the perpetrator" of the 11 September attacks.

"British Muslims who wish to be part of mainstream British society will condemn the New York atrocities," Lord Tebbit says. "They should also go a step further and ostracise those who sympathise with the perpetrator. If British Muslims stand alongside the forces of civilisation against barbarians born into Islam it will make it much easier for us to see them first as British and only then as Muslim." He says: "Islam has a much stronger hold on most of its people" than other religions, which could create a conflict with British culture.

Anti-racism campaigners urged the Tory leader immediately to remove the party whip from the Conservative peer if he wanted to be taken seriously about eradicating the party's racist image.

Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, said: "If Mr Duncan Smith wants to show his real credibility he should sack Norman Tebbit immediately. This is racist rhetoric, which only serves to fuel a bigoted right-wing agenda. At a time when most decent minded people are making a clear distinction between Muslims and terrorists, he seeks to blur the distinction."

A Tory spokeswoman said the party was not in a position to discipline Lord Tebbit because he was a member of the House of Lords. "We can't take responsibility for anything anyone says outside the elected party," she said. "He is not speaking for the party."